At OHA college counseling begins during a student’s initial campus interview, as course placement and graduation plans are discussed. The process culminates in the details of applications and essay writing for seniors, and the excitement of acceptance notifications. The College Counseling office offers support and guidance throughout all aspects of this process. In a typical school year, Oak Hill Academy’s average graduating class of 40-45 students completes and submits well over 200 applications to a variety of colleges and universities. We know our students well and there is no “cookie cutter” approach; instead our students are guided to target schools that are carefully considered based on individual goals and needs. Our approach to the college planning process? “Go where you will grow.”
A primary tool for students is the “College Lab,” which is open after school and staffed by counselors who are available to offer hands-on assistance and college information. College Lab is a dedicated space for individual and small-group attention to the college research and application process with an eye toward identifying schools that are a fit on a continuum that includes “reach” schools. Throughout the school year, visiting college admission representatives from a variety of schools also use this space to connect with, and present to, our students face to face.
Focus for Grades 8-10
Placement into academic courses which will fully prepare students for college admission.
Identification of academic strengths and weaknesses, resulting in intervention plans which will challenge students to build on their strengths and improve areas of weakness.
PSAT testing for diagnostic purposes and to prepare students for college admission testing.
Exposure to career interest inventories and career information.
Exposure to college search information and resources.
Students are encouraged to use summer vacation as an opportunity for growth, particularly as they become older. Consider options such as summer school, volunteering, summer camps or enrichment programs, working, mission trips, travel, or “shadow” a professional in a career area of interest.
Students may attend college lab meetings during the spring to begin more specific college research.
Focus for Grade 11
Continuation of the areas above, with a greater emphasis on the student’s particular areas of college and career interest.
Juniors take the PSAT in October.
Juniors must take the SAT and/or ACT during the spring semester.
Juniors meet in the college lab during the spring semester for research with the College Counselor. Students are provided with a map for the college search process, become familiar with college resources, and begin selecting “best fit” college options. Students will learn to identify colleges as “safety,” “target,” or “reach” schools.
Juniors leave for summer vacation with plans that will enable them to be prepared for the college application process in the fall.
Focus for Grade 12
Counseling staff are available to assist seniors and their parents throughout the admissions process. This includes research, completing applications, writing essays, and gathering necessary supplemental materials. This is an important developmental time for older adolescents, and as such the students are taught to take the initiative for the process, with support from parents and counseling staff.
Counseling staff will work with seniors and families wherever they are in the process–some will be ready to send applications when they arrive on campus in the fall, other students are newer to the process and will need to further their research.
Seniors will make a plan to take or re-take all necessary SAT or ACT tests in the fall semester.
Detailed time lines and checklists are available from the Counseling Office.